Grandpa Talks After Teens Slain in Alleged Little Falls Burglary

Updated: 11/29/2012 4:02 PM By: Leslie Dyste

The teenage cousins shot and killed during an alleged home burglary on Thanksgiving Day may have committed a similar crime at a house nearby, authorities said.
According to the Morrison County Sheriff's Office, a search of a red Mitsubishi Eclipse seized after the shooting of 18-year-old Haile Kifer and 17-year-old Nicholas Brady contained items reported stolen in a separate burglary.

The night before the shootings, deputies were called to a neighborhood just outside Little Falls because a red Mitsubishi Eclipse was parked 'suspiciously' in the area.

Brady told deputies that he and Kifer had been driving around when they ran out of gas. Brady said Kifer had left to get more gas.

Deputies gave Brady a ride into the City of Little Falls. The car was left at its location on Hilton Road.

When retired teacher Richard Johnson returned home from a trip to Spain Sunday evening, he found someone had broke in and stole coins and prescription medication.

Johnson said he found drawers pulled out and cupboard doors open. At first, he said, he thought the friend watching his house was playing a joke, but as he went from room to room and discovered a sliding glass door had been smashed, he realized he had been robbed.

He said his prescriptions to treat diabetes and control cholesterol were missing, along with some foreign coins and pennies. He said his friend checked the home Wednesday and everything was fine.

In a search of the Mitsubishi officers found six bottles of prescription medication that had been prescribed to Johnson.

"So between Wednesday and Sunday, the break-in occurred," said Johnson, who taught English for 32 years at Little Falls High School and retired in 1999. He said he has sympathy for Smith as another burglary victim, but the teens didn't deserve to be killed.

On Thursday, Byron Smith shot and killed Brady and Kifer, in the basement of his Little Falls home.

Smith told authorities that he disturbed the pair as they tried to break into his house and that he shot them in self-defense.

Smith, a retired U.S. State Department employee, was charged Monday with two counts of murder. According to the criminal complaint, Smith shot the teens multiple times. He told investigators his home had been broken into several times before.
Minnesota law gives homeowners the right to protect themselves and their property, but Sheriff Michel Wetzel said they don't have the right to execute an intruder once the threat is neutralized.
Smith told authorities that he was in his basement last Thursday when he heard a window break upstairs. When he saw Brady on the basement stairwell, he fired at the teenager then shot him again in the face after he fell down.
The complaint said Smith told an investigator: "I want him dead."
Smith said he dragged Brady's body into his workshop. When Kifer came down the stairs, he shot her multiple times. He dragged her into the room and as she gasped for air, he fired what he described as a "good clean finishing shot" under her chin "up into the cranium," the complaint said.

In a letter written by Brady's grandmother, his grandparents said "Nick and Haile's lives are a mosaic. The day of their death is just one snapshot, but that's what's focused on."

The investigation into the shooting as well as other burglaries that may be connected is ongoing.

Click here to read the criminal complaint.

Family and friends will be gathering to remember Brady and Kifer this week.

Visitation will take place Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Emblom-Breeny funeral service.

Prayer service is at 7 p.m.

Their funeral will follow Saturday at 10 a.m. at Living Hope Assembly of God Church in Little Falls.

The Associated Press Contributed to this Report.